Genre: YA


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

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Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Monstrous Beauty
Elizabeth Fama
Genre: Paranormal, YA
Publication date: September 4th 2012
by Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR)

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Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.
-A copy was provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for review-
I have tried to read mermaid books – a new hype in today’s YA market – and book after book I keep finding myself disappointed, realizing that these water beings are simply not my forte… until now. Is it the dark, twisted plot? Is it the violent, yet beautiful story? Is it the combination of local sea lore mixed with curses, murders, love, and horror? Let’s just say, this is definitely more up my alley than the froufrou mermaid books that I have been using for kindling lately.Monstrous Beauty welcomes the old sea-folk lore, where mermaids are beautiful, perilous beasts who seduce and kill those who unfortunately come upon their waters. There is even mention of specific lore details such as the goddess Atargatis; I can’t say I was extremely familiar with the mythology myself, but this book piqued my interest enough to have me browsing Wikipedia to learn more about it. It’s a very fascinating subject with a lot of history and legends surrounding it. Though knowing absolutely nothing about the history of these sea creatures will not diminish your enjoyment of this book in the least, it’s merely to say that it will increase your appetite for it. Rich imagery created by brilliant descriptions turns these mythical beings, as well as their underwater world, the villagers, the alternating time periods, all of it, into a strikingly picturesque tale. It may revolve around it, but the mermaids are not the only thing to look forward to in this novel; we have a cursed family, a love story, an enthralling history, and even a few ghosts.

Naturally, with such vicious creatures in our midst, we get a plot that is much darker than your usual paranormal mermaid novel. It’s violent, gory at times, with scenes of horror and seduction that I would not normally expect from a YA novel, making me recommend this for more mature readers. I found these aspects really impacted the seriousness of the mermaid myth. They are not, in fact, sweet loveable creatures. They’re manipulative, treacherous monsters who will make you look at The Little Mermaid in a whole new light.

Hester is dealing with a genetic defect that has killed all mothers in her family after they have given birth, but when she meets the mysterious Ezra, he helps her figure out some answers to this apparent curse. The mesmerizing manner this story is told keeps a perfect pace, constantly bringing us deeper into this fiercely gripping tale, never letting our attention falter. While Hester is delving farther into her unusual family history, we get thrown into the past where a passionate love story with mermaid Syrenka and her human lover unfolds. With the past and the present intertwining in more ways than one, this whirlwind romance quickly becomes a richly developed mystery. And even though I solved large parts of it long before Hester — in some cases I even marveled at how easily she could have deciphered it if only she thought it through for a minute — I still enjoyed the thrilling climax which is soon followed by a flawless ending.

Exciting, dark, and positively gorgeous, Monstrous Beauty has finally given me a mermaid book to rave about, throwing my expectations right out of the water (Ha! I made a pun!). A must read for those who would prefer their mermaid books in a more sinister tone.

4 Stars
4 Hot Espressos

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Posted by on 07/20/2012 • 52 Comments

It’s no secret that this book has been getting insane reviews. Being the persistent black sheep that I am, I was incredibly wary of the hype it was garnering, certain that it would fail to impress me. Oh boy. Oh freaking boy!! Was I ever wrong. I loved this so hard!

Echo and Noah… Echo. Noah. Nocho?

Echo has been through an extremely distressing, life altering ordeal because of which she’s suffering post-traumatic stress, with the worst side effect being memory loss. She doesn’t remember what happened. All she has are the scars. From popular to outsider, Echo’s troubled state-of-mind is harsh and unstable. One of the best character development I’ve read, she made me a part of her. With only the span of a few pages, she had me…

Review: This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Review: This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Posted by on 06/04/2012 • 52 Comments

When someone sees a zombie book there are two reactions: 1) Oh zombies, scary and gory! AwesomeSAUCE! or 2) Ewww zombies! Icky! – pass. So this is a warning: As far as zombie books go, This Is Not A Test has to be one of the tamest. It’s not gory, nor is it an adrenaline filled story. Yes there are zombies and it can get intense at times, but funnily enough, it is not about the zombies. It’s about a girl who doesn’t want to live in this world anymore. She can’t keep going with a dad that beats her, and a sister that left her. This book is about finding the will to live in all this melancholy. Surviving in a school with others who only want to make…

Review: A Midsummer’s Nightmare

Review: A Midsummer’s Nightmare

Posted by on 06/02/2012 • 29 Comments

After hearing so much about Kody Keplinger, I finally took the plunge and picked this one up – it will not be my last. It may be a bit formulaic, but I enjoyed the characters immensely, and Whitley’s story is full of drama, attitude, and misgivings that makes it a real page turner.

Whitley’s constant partying and flirting has given her quite the reputation, and her only vacation from all of this has turned out to be more of a nightmare. Whitley’s problems are intense. She’s the kind of character that is not necessarily likeable as she makes dumb, reckless choices and complains incessantly. Strangely, however, I didn’t find this irritating; her less than endearing qualities is what makes the story all the more appealing. It gets us to care,…

Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Posted by on 01/30/2012 • 47 Comments

Imagine a world where Hitler would have won. A world where if you don’t follow the right religion, you won’t ever be seen again. A world where its against the law to hang out with the opposite sex after curfew unless you’re married. A world where being born from an unwed mother can get you killed – or worse. This is life in Kristen Simmons’ Article 5. It’s a truly frightening world where everyone is helpless against this corrupt government and their inconceivable rules.

There is barely any room to breathe during this story. It’s so action packed that I’m surprised the pages can stay intact. This is surprisingly not overwhelming, however. It simply makes it a book that keeps you reading until you turn the very last page. As…

Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

Posted by on 01/21/2012 • 28 Comments

Time travel is a very tricky subject to get into. (Look at the epic failure of Lost for example). There is the usual paradox of, if we go back in time then what happens must already have happened to make us go back. As well as the endless time loop theories. Tempest battles this with separate timelines. So now my questions are: if we change timeline, then what happens to our self in the original timeline? Does a fake us keep living there? If not, is it as if we never existed there, or do people think we’ve just disappeared? And what happens to our other self that existed before we got to the new timeline?… Yes, my brain hurts too! These were the sort of questions running through my…